In its ongoing battle against the establishment, unions, lobbyists and government cronyism, ride hailing service Uber has faced innumerable challenges, legal battles and attacks. The latest comes to us from across the pond and most of the usual list of suspects are once again involved.
In London, the government transport regulator announced that Uber’s license to operate a taxi service was up at the end of the month and would not be renewed. London’s new mayor, the extremely liberal Sadiq Khan, has been taking the side of the taxi companies for some time, so when you hear that the announcement was made by the government’s transport regulator, Transport for London (TfL), you will likely not be very surprised to learn that Mayor Khan is conveniently enough also the local chairman of TfL. (Reuters)
London deemed Uber unfit to run a taxi service on Friday and stripped it of its license to operate from the end of next week in a major blow to the U.S. firm and 3.5 million users in one of the world’s wealthiest cities.
In a break with the startup’s usual combative tone, Uber’s new Chief Executive Dara Khosrowshahi asked London to please work with the ride service. He told employees the company needed to act with integrity but that he did not believe Uber had done everything it was accused of in London.
Uber [UBER.UL], which has 40,000 drivers working in the capital, also said it would contest the decision.
The British capital’s transport regulator said the Silicon Valley technology giant’s approach and conduct was not fit and proper to hold a private vehicle hire license and it would not be renewed when it expires on Sept. 30.
The company has gained a little more time because the government partially backed off, saying that they could continue to operate while an appeal to the decision is heard.
So what were Uber’s crimes which made them “unfit” for a license? The regulators were tossing about accusations of improper behavior in their home offices and the usual allegations, but primarily claimed that London riders would be “unsafe” with their drivers. As evidence they cited a statistic showing that there were 32 allegations of sexual assault or other crimes reported by passengers in Uber cars in 2015 (when they came to town).
Well, that certainly sounds pretty bad. Of course, that must mean that their main competitors, the London Black Cabs (which have deep ties to the municipal government) must be much safer, right? Oh, wait. there were a lot more assaults than that in cabs in 2015 and, in fact, long before Uber opened up for business. (The Standard, emphasis added)
Over 400 taxi or private hire drivers were charged with criminal offences last year, official figures show.
In 2015, charges were brought against 413 drivers, with 126 accused of violent or sexual offences.
The data, released by the Metropolitan Police under Freedom of Information (FOI) laws, also showed that between 2011 and 2015, a total of 1,948 drivers were charged with criminal offences.
Of these, 521 were charged with violent or sexual offences, which can include grievous bodily harm or rape.
Funny. In those pre-Uber times when there were more than five hundred charges of violent or sexual offenses in the regular cabs over a four year period nobody was talking about taking away the license of the Black Cabs. Isn’t that just the strangest thing?
It’s all too typical. The cab companies and their unions have been in bed with municipal government officials the world over for a very long time. There are plenty of deep pockets involved and none of them want to see a new, more desirable service moving in on their turf and upsetting the apple cart. In the meantime, a petition to prevent the Uber ban in London reached more than a half million signatures in no time at all. (Reuters)
A petition organized by Uber against London’s decision not to renew its operating license has gathered 500,000 signatures, little more than 24 hours after the decision was announced, a website monitoring its progress showed on Saturday.
The online petition was started on Friday after transport authorities in the British capital deemed Uber unfit to run a taxi service and stripped it of its license from next week.
This is the only way Uber ever expands into new territory anymore. We never, ever would have gotten Uber into upstate New York this year had it not been for a massive petition campaign and surveys showing that long standing state legislators were going to lose their jobs unless they approved it. The same may have to happen in London to certain members of Parliament before long.